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Everything posted by KateinChicago

  1. Oh... Since you are at the cottage there is really only one meal You must start with Gazpacho one with (preferably cottage grown)almonds,bread crumbs and heirloom tomatoes. Next MUST be beef wellington with wild mushrooms,homemade pate (preferably from locally caught chicken livers or foie gras from the locally run-stuff-your gullet emporium) puff pastry (made from locally grown butter and wheat flour milled at the cottage) and a veal reduction sauce made from recently killed veal and locally grown vegetables and herbs. Everybody who has ever had a "cottage" knows that an August evening dinner isn't complete without cottage scalloped potatoes with a wee bit of cream and cottage gruyere. For dessert the choices for cottageness are limited. Primarily they include ..... Seriously what are you looking for? My parents owned a "cottage" on Lake Geneva, Wisconcin with 6 bed rooms and eight children. We didn't cook differently than we did at home. We ate well at both places.
  2. In Italian it's Aglio (garlic) e (and) Olio (oil). It varies in Italian dialects but it is never called Alio Orio. This is one of those dishes that people have strong opinions about. Some people slice the garlic, some mince, some put whole crushed into extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. Some allow the garlic to darken in the oil and remove it before serving. Some swear by the addition of red pepper flakes others say parmesan cheese should never be in it. I could go on but you hopefully get the point. It is a simple quick dish that can be prepared at a minutes notice with ingredients usually at hand. For me it consists of minced fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, chopped fresh parsley, cooked spaghetti and (optional) freshly grated parmesan cheese plus salt and pepper. I saute minced fresh garlic in extra virgin olive oil till softened, add crushed red pepper flakes and let saute for a few seconds then season with S & P. Toss drained cooked spaghetti in the pan along with a little pasta cooking water and add some chopped fresh parsley and mix well. Serve at once with freshly grated parmesan cheese. So easy and so good! Kate
  3. I am a huge fan of Lynn Rosetto Kasper's "brodo" from "The Splendid Table". It packs a ton of flavor and, as she suggests, is great on its' own with just a handful of grated parmesan cheese for a restorative soup. It calls for beef shanks or soup bones as well as poultry (I use turkey wings and cut up chicken parts instead of capon which is pricey and not so easy to find) and has a very long cooking time over low heat. Basically it calls for 2 to 3 lbs of beef shanks, 8 or 9 lbs of cut up poultry, 3 stalks celery and 3 carrots choppped, 4 very large onions chopped, Bay leaves, crushed garlic and fresh parsley sprigs. Cook over low after an initial low bubble boil for 12 to 14 hours. Strain and defat. I make this 2 to 3 times per year in my 8 and 12 quart stock pots and use it for everything from soups and gravies to sauces. From 20 quarts it yields 8 quarts which I greatly reduce as my freezer space is limited. I freeze in quart sized zip lock bags as well as put some of the reduced stock in ice cube sized portions for making individual bowls of broth and/or gravy for two. I LOVE this stuff! If you make home made tortellini this is the perfect vehicle for tortellini in brodo but it also improves any home made soup to the point that I can discern its absence when I run out and make due with a store bought low sodium substitute. Kate
  4. I am going to St Thomas next week and have been many times in the past as friends have a vacation home there(near Mahogany Bay). We have eaten very well at local restaurants but I can't seem to remember the names of the best places. It's been a few years, 3 maybe, but I would appreciate some recommendations for a high end casual fine dining restaurant to take our hosts to. Price is not a consideration. We will have access to fresh fish since our hosts have a deep sea boat so I would love to hear thoughts on high end fish cookery. The last time that I was there we caught marlin, tuna, rainbow runner and many fish I forgot but that we enjoyed greatly. I made a ceviche dish with the tuna that the hostess still asks for the recipe but I am clueless. I know that I used shallots, lime juice, olive oil and... something slightly hot. Any thoughts to replicate this? Her husband loved whatever I made (and he caught the tuna)and thinks that I am holding out. I am not: so your best recipe for fresh (as in barely recently dead) carpaccio/tartare would be greatly appreciated. They have access to well stocked stores but gourmet stuff is a long ambling drive away. Kate
  5. Mince up some garlic. Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Briefly saute garlic in butter (2 to 3 minutes till soft). Spread garlic butter over bread. Douse with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Cover with chopped Italian parsley and perhaps some snipped chives. Spice with a little S & P. Place one half loaf on top of the other and bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Make Happy Face and eat. Kate
  6. Several things that I would like to make but am unhappy with the recipes. Stuffed Grape Leaves. I've done the research, made a few batches and am still not happy with the results. I am thinking these might be better to buy from the few restaurants and manufacturers (like Divina) that I like. Lespinasse braised beef short ribs. I purchased the cook book "The Elements of Taste" just so that I could taste this heaven on a plate again but it was a non starter. Not bad just not the ethereal creation from the former restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. Chef Gray Kunz knew that this was the reason many would buy his cookbook but the recipe he offered was sadly inferior to what the restaurant offered, at least to me, over several years of eating. Perfect Tarte Tatin. I made Thomas Keller's recipe and it pretty much didn't do well even though most of his recipes are spot on for me. I made Tarte Tatin from an old French cookbook (my first attempt at puff pastry dough) that seemed terrific but I know that there are better versions out there. Perfect Cassoulet. I have made elements of cassoulet but never the whole beast. I have made the duck leg confit (Thomas Keller's recipe) and the sausage which I think are wonderful but I have yet to make cassoulet from start to finish by my self. My teamed efforts required pulling out the lamb and pork roast (my friend made them and when I tasted them they were NOT good) as both were dry and unflavorable. Both cooks agreed that these meats had to go. My next effort will be a sausage, duck confit and bean mixture but I wish that I had a great recipe for this! Meatloaf. I never, ever liked meatloaf but my SO does. I have been making a version that both of us can digest(barely)but lately it seems further and farther removed from his meatloaf dream and mine (my meatloaf dreams do not exist). Is there one that will make us both happy? His dream includes canned (argh) mushrooms, ballpark mustard, ketchup. My (better) sollutions include fresh sauteed (Crimini) mushrooms, Dijon mustard and Heinz Chile Sauce. I use a mix of ground pork, beef and veal plus milk soaked bread crumbs plus sauteed onions and garlic. If I have on hand I add parsely and other herbs. There must be a better version of this dish that doesn't require a PHD in everyday guy stuff. I want to make him happy but once a week is too much for this. Kate
  7. I was suprised to see Tropp's China Moon Cookbook and any of Keller's listed as disappointments. I've made so many winning recipes from both that I find this pretty bewildering. My copy of China Moon opens automatically to "Plum Wine Chicken Salad with Sweet Mustard Sauce". This recipe requires an investment of time making the foundations for the dish. These include the delicious Chile Orange Oil (which I have made as Christmas gifts for years by universal demand and redemand) and the Five Flavor Oil as well as the Pickled Ginger (the juice of which is an absolute staple in my house for salad dressing and sauces). The foundations need only be made very infrequently and have long shelf lifes. The Plum Wine Chicken Salad frequently morphs into a non-salad version served over rice that benefits from some textural additions of water chestnuts, toasted pine nuts or whatever. My SO would be bereft if he didn't get the non-salad version on a regular basis and has joked (or half-joked) that it's the reason he can never leave me. Keller's books are fussy to be sure but the results have been pretty uniformly spectacular. Notwithstanding the previously mentioned and amazing quiche from "Bouchon" have you not tried his heavenly pate a choix gnocchi? I make them at least three times per year and freeze and dole them out like perfect gifts at various dinners. This post would be too long to list the number of recipes I have made from Bouchon and TFL that have received anything but unfettered accolades. I can see faulting these books because they involve too much work or too many steps to build the complexity of flavors but on sheer merit? In my mind not a chance! Kate
  8. Fernet Branca is not a drink but a threat. A threat from an elderly Piemontese Grandmother when you complain that your tummy hurts. All of these attempts to make it palatable are seriously scary Kate
  9. You sum up my feelings fairly precisely. I can cook with them and make a mean Hollandaise or Bernaise sauce. You can put them in my steak tartare or egg nog and I won't mind a bit but every time I see someone eat one just makes me ill. The scene in the Adam Sandler movie where he plays a chef who makes himself a runny egg sandwich puts my gag reflex into overdrive! Kate ::shuddering::
  10. I am thrilled to hear such a glowing review of Seasonal since I'm dining there tomorrow evening. ← I hope you like it as much as we did! We went there twice in one week. I also ordered the lamb loin with the maiutake mushrooms. The lamb was great but the mushrooms were unbelievable. I am still craving them! I think that it is between 6th and 7th not 5th and 6th. Certainly worth the walk and a little hard to find because of scaffolding which obscures the signage but on the south side of the street. A lot of German speaking people seem to eat there but of the young and hip variety which my SO and I are definately not No one seemed to find us offensive though Kate
  11. I travel to New York City on a fairly frequent basis and almost always stay in the area of 55th and 5th. This is a problem when it comes to dining because I don't want to rely on cabs which can be worth their weight in gold at certain hours (think dining). I am always on the lookout for places that 1) I can walk to 2) are seriously food worthy and 3) won't otherwise offend my SO. Mumber 3 is a huge concern as he is not happy with very loud places and those that seemed designed to keep you there for hours. Hence we have never been to Per Se but it is now on the radar with their bar menu policy. We tend to go to midtown haunts like L'atelier de Joel Robouchon; the Modern (dining room and bar); Le Bernardin, Jean George et. al. One recent find that we both enthusiactically enjoyed was "Seasonal Restaurant and Wein Bar" an Austrian restaurant on 58th between 5th and 6th. I could eat their spaetzle for the rest of my life either as an entree or as a side dish. The weiner schnitzel is amazing as are the the stuffed pasta with mountain cheese, butter sauteed morels and peas. I have never seen this place reviewed. I literally stumbled across it and thought my SO would like this food. It might be undervalued (whatever the hell that means) but it is worthy of attention. Kate
  12. Your later definition is more accurate. It's food that makes you feel as if your mother or grandmother is taking care of you just because that's what they *do*. Kate
  13. Are you thinking of La Locanda del Sant' Uffizio by any chance? It's in the Monferrato area of Asti Province and is more hotel and fine restaurant than a B & B but utterly charming, bucolic and the food was excellent last time I stayed there. According to their web site they have 40 rooms. Kate
  14. For about 10 years I helped my sister prepare her office staff Christmas party at her home. The staff were pretty much as described by you except that they knew how seriously into cooking their MD boss was and it would beat eating out at any restaurant in the small town where she/they lived. We tried many bits of exotica over the years mostly in order to delight ourselves and have fun with the cooking. Eventually we learned that they would eat and enjoy things like gougeres stuffed with bacon and pickled onions (Judy Rodgers recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook) and grilled beef tenderloin with various dipping sauces (with weird names like chimmichurri ) but were never universally thrilled with anything too "out there". Eventually we compromised by always making the gougeres and the tenderloin (by popular demand) nixing the sweetbreads and other offal except chicken livers and throwing in only one new (translate "strange") dish each year. The last year she did this I think we made Vietnamese rice paper rolls with dipping sauces (comment - "would have been better deep fried" - they may be healthcare professionals but this is a Christmas party!); Bagna Cauda with vegetables and bread (where I grew up and my sister practiced medicine this was not considered strange as everyone associated it with winter eating and all those of Italian heritage had blue or green eyes)l a Christmas salad with greens, pomegranates, avocado, some kind of cheese and spiced pecans; the beef tenderloin and sauces; roasted fingerling and sweet potatoes with fresh herbs; some green vegetable cooked au gratin; and at least two desserts whose identity escapes me at the moment. ....and lots of beer. That seemed to please the most Kate
  15. I don't know if this qualifies as "Italian" but Italian is my ethnic origin on my father's side and the preparation has garlic, fried fresh breadcrumbs, Italian (flatleaf) parsley and lemon juice. For my mother's 80th birthday party my sister sent us 6 dozen oysters (3 dozen Kumamoto and 3 dozen of a different and larger but equally mild variety whose name escapes me at the moment) from Seattle. We only had one proper Oyster knife between the three of us who actually knew how to shuck oysters. These babies were fresh and seemingly welded shut. After shucking 2 1/2 dozen we gave up and served them with a mignonette sauce, a cocktail-horseradish sauce and fresh lemons. Two of my siblings present for the feast cannot consume raw oysters even though they'd dearly love to so I promised to bake or grill the remainder the next day (secretly hoping the oysters would be less tenacious of life to yield more readily). The still defiant oysters required a short bath in sparkling water to "drunken" them up enough to open easily (I was amazed how well this trick worked!). This simple but absolutely delicious concoction is what I came up with from the ingredients left-over from our gargantuan food extravaganza of the day before. For 3 dozen oysters: 4 cloves garlic minced 1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs 6 tbl butter (unsalted) lots of fresh lemon juice minced Italian parsley (to taste) Sea salt to taste Turn oven onto low broil. Saute garlic over medium to medium-low heat in the butter until soft. Add bread crumbs to the mixture and fry for a few minutes. To this I added a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and some of the nectar from the oysters and cooked for a few more minutes. (There was no rock salt in the larder and the oysters would have spilled too much of the nectar onto the sheet pan unsupported by salt so I just poured off a small quantity from each oyster into the saute pan). Off the heat add the minced parsley and salt and stir. Depending on the size of the oysters spread a teaspoon size dollop (for the kumamoto) or more for the larger. Place under the broiler and watch carefully to insure that the bread crumbs don't burn, until the edgs of the oysters start to wrinkle (about 5 minutes maximum). Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges. Now I'm hungry for oysters Kate
  16. Avenues at The Peninsula has a dining bar as opposed to a bar bar . I have not eaten at the bar but I ate at the restaurant at a table last Friday. I enjoyed the food for the most part the exception being the mini- desserts two of which I loathed. One of the "butters" served with the breads, an olive oil "emulsion" with herbs was also not enjoyed. It was a solid olive oil and herb concoction that tasted, the only word that comes to mind, smarmy and not herby or olive oily. I also didn't like the amuse but that's probably just me as I have a problem with egg yolks and caviar is not one of my favorite things. The bar overlooks the kitchen so that seems pretty cool. You are offered 3 options ranging from $75 to $140 for pre-set tastings I hadn't eaten there since Graham Elliot Bowles left. I really liked the potato, scallop, lamb course and the main dessert but I get a lttle miffed that restaurants like this offer no options. But a person desiring cutting edge type food should enjoy. Nomi also offers a food bar. Kate
  17. I got some fresh flageolet beans at the Farmer's Market today and have never cooked with the fresh version before. I assume that the fresh variety requires no soaking but does anyone know about how long they need to simmer? I assume about the same as soaked dried or maybe a little bit less. I was thinking of making a bean chowder with them. Normally my white bean soups involve pureeing the beans to create a creamy finish but I wondered if this might be wasting the value of the freshness factor. Would it make more sense to keep them whole? I'm making chicken stock to braise them in but would certainly appreciate any ideas for how to take advantage of this rarely available fresh bean. Kate
  18. They sell duck fat at Fox & Obel but at the prices they charge I wouldn't want to buy it in any "quantity"! I've purchased it when I was making duck confit and didn't have quite enough reserved frozen duck fat to cover. I'd love to hear of a cheaper source. Kate
  19. I just got back from Las Vegas on Monday. We had dinner at L'Atelier and Michael Mina. We did the $145 pp tasting menu at L'Atelier and ordered ala carte at Mina. I never get to order tasting menus because my SO *hates* them but since this was a big "0" birthday week for me he was cajoled into trying it. Bottom line -- he loved the tasting menu including the things he claimed to hate like the raw tuna "cured" in olive oil and the diver scallops. He would have prefered dining at Robuchon because of the table service even at their prices but we had a great time anyway. Unfortunately for his wallet we will dine at Robuchon in a few weeks . Michael Mina was also great. He ordered the foie gras dish as a starter and I the scallops trio. I didn't taste his foie as the scallops consumed my attention. I really loved the scallops with potatoes and leeks on the trio selection. For mains he ordered the American Kobe beef trio and seemed to love it. I ordered the Dover Sole encrusted in Filo and, while good, it seemed over the top buttery. I loved what I tasted of his meal. Neither of us had room for desserts at Mina but we both loved the space even if hating the cab line to get back to our hotel. Kate
  20. Is this it? "Of course one can 'go too far' and except in directions in which we can go too far there is no interest in going at all; and only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out just how far one can go." quoting T.S. Elliot on page 191 Kate
  21. Yes, it's true. Traditional Italian cooking does not combine seafood and cheese ... except ... it happens! I've been making linguine with clam sauce following the Marcella Hazan method for years (modified of course ) with a sprinkling of parmesan and butter. In her "The Classic Italian Cookbook" for the white clam sauce recipe she writes "This is a tomato-less sauce that includes two ingredients rarely used in Italian clam sauces: butter and cheese. But this departure from tradition is justified and successful because it adds smoothness and delicacy to the sauce." I don't know if she has repented this statement but I find the inclusion of a smidgeon of butter and parmesan essential to my favorite version of this dish. I am an Italian American whose relatives came from Piemonte. Being landlocked, anything with anything seafood but anchovies and salt cod is beyond my inherited (Piemontese) experience but I have spent a few years in most regions of Italy and can't say that this taste profile is something I've encountered much. It is still my go-to vongole bianco version. Kate
  22. KateinChicago


    I ate at Grayz on Wednesday evening and we thoroughly enjoyed our food. We had three of the small plates: the oysters Rockefeller which used raw but slightly warmed oysters, the spaetzle with cheese, creme fraiche and truffles (a very grown up version of macaroni and cheese) and the fried calamari. We also shared the braised oxtail in port wine reduction which was really delicious. There was supposed to be some foie gras in this dish but my SO scarfed it down before I had a chance at it. I think it was priced comparably to the beef short ribs and was very rich and filling. For dessert my SO ordered the chocolate enrobbed ice cream balls but I was too full to partake. I'd certainly go back but it wasn't on my dime
  23. Were doing a surf and turf at a friends house. They are providing the live lobsters and filets and the rest of us are providing the appetizers, sides and desserts. So far we have: oysters Rockefeller spicy Thai mussels in curried coconut broth grilled lobster and filet mignons potato, leek and gruyere gratin baby mixed greens salad with pomegranates, spiced pecans and sherry vinaigrette bread pudding with bourbon cream sauce
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